This article was published in the Dream Garden Magazine in May 2021
Here Karen talks about what to look for in a professional Garden Deisgner.
The article that was written is as below:
The Society of Garden Designers (SGD) is a great place to start to find a professional garden designer. It was established 40 years ago and is still the only association purely for professional garden designers in the UK
HOW TO WORK WITH A PROFESSIONAL GARDEN DESIGNER
1. Choose the right designer for you. It’s important to find a designer you feel comfortable with and one you feel best understands your requirements and design style. A good relationship with your garden designer will lead to a happy and productive experience for both parties. Don’t be afraid to approach three or four different designers, visit their previous projects or take up references with their clients.
2. Understand what services a garden designer will provide for you. Most designers will offer a wide range of services, from a consultation or simple planting plan to a full design and build service. In some cases, the designer may also provide ongoing maintenance. Once you have appointed a designer, you can either find a contractor to build the garden yourself or you can commission the designer to oversee the entire process.
3. Be clear about your needs. Good communication is essential, not only for the initial exchange of ideas but also throughout the design process and the build. This will ensure that the final result is the one you had hoped for. A good garden designer will have the skills to effectively interpret your requirements, but you need to spend some time preparing a detailed brief that lists everything you want both functionally and aesthetically.
4. Be honest about your budget for the project. A designer will produce tailored-made designs to match your budget, so be clear about what you can afford at the start. If you under-estimate, you could restrict the initial creative concept. If you over-estimate, you could be disappointed if the design has to be scaled down or re-worked in line with your budget. Remember that good design doesn’t need to be expensive.
5. Agree fees and expenses at the start. There are many factors that determine the cost of a new garden, such as the size of your plot, the work involved, the available access, and the materials and plants you choose. It’s essential to agree fees and expenses in advance of any work. Make sure you fully understand the cost implications, what you are getting for your money and when you will be invoiced.
6. Plan ahead and be realistic about timings. On average, you should allow around six months from appointing your chosen designer to completion of your garden. However, factors such as the scale of the project, the availability of contractors and specialist components and unpredictable elements, such as weather conditions, could all add to this time frame.
7. Trust your designer. The best relationships are built on trust. If you’ve chosen the right designer, be confident about your decision and let your designer do what they do best. Remember, you have chosen them for their skills, knowledge and experience, so try to be open to ideas and suggestions.
8. Be prepared for any potential disruption. Building a new garden can be as disruptive as fitting a new kitchen or bathroom; particularly if materials have to be moved through the house or if you are undertaking a major landscaping project.
9. Discuss any issues as quickly as possible. Ask to see the evolving design before it gets to a final proposal. It is much easier to make any changes during the process rather than when the design is finished.